Pope Francis a Latin Lover Too?

Tip o’ the pileus to Adrian Murdoch for pointing us to this item by Harry Mount in the Telegraph:

The Pope’s Inaugural Mass at St Peter’s this morning is a joy for Latin fans. Like his predecessor, he sounds pretty handy at the language, speaking the ancient words fluently and naturally.

Even better, for us Latin obsessives, he’s chosen a motto for his coat of arms with not just one, but two, gerunds – the bane of the Latin-learning schoolboy’s lessons. Gerunds, you’ll remember, are verbal nouns – like “doing”, “laughing”, “singing”. The even trickier gerundive is a verbal adjective, meaning something like “needing to be done” – there is no real English equivalent, although the English words, Amanda and agenda, are both gerundives.

His new motto, “Miserando atque eligendo”, means “By having mercy and by choosing”. It derives from the Venerable Bede’s homily on St Matthew’s Gospel: “Jesus saw the tax collector and, by having mercy, chose him as an Apostle, saying to him, ‘Follow me.'”

Both miserando and eligendo are gerunds; even better, miserando is the gerund of a deponent verb, miseror, “to have mercy on”. So Pope Francis has incorporated a real brain-mangler – the ablative of the gerund of a deponent verb – in his motto. Good for Pope Francis – I look forward to many more years of delightfully complex Latin from him.

… which is interesting, because just yesterday I was trying to wrap my head around one of the first tweets from the new pontiff:

… which is, apparently, the same sentiment as this:

Here’s a brief video on the coat of arms, which curiously doesn’t mention the motto:


Recent Finds in Smyrna’s Agora

From Hurriyet:

A part of a street similar to the Arcadian street in the ancient city of Ephesus in İzmir has been uncovered during excavations at a nearby historical agora.

The excavations in the area are being carried out under the leadership of Professor Akın Ersoy and his team. He said the main street, which begins from the Faustina gate and continues to the port, had been found to the researchers’ surprise. “We have also found a fountain on this street. The fountain has a statement that praises a benefactor for his support for the ancient city of Smyrna.”

Ersoy said they had also located a multi-echelon staircase on the street. “The continuation of this staircase goes to an area covered with mosaics. This ancient street is 80 meters long, but it reached the sea. This is the most important street in the agora for the entrance of goods. Just like in Ephesus, the street blocks water and has a very good sewer system. Visitors are prohibited from entering the area at the moment. When the work is done, tourists will be able to walk on this street just like in Ephesus.

The agora of Smyrna was built during the Hellenistic era at the base of Pagos Hill. It was the commercial, judicial and political nucleus of the ancient city. After a destructive earthquake in 178 AD, Smyrna was rebuilt in the Roman period and used until the Byzantine period.

One of the historical structures that had been long been neglected in the agora has recently been restored by the municipality as Agora Excavation House with support of the İzmir Development Agency.

via: Main street revealed in agora of Smyrna

CJ Online Review: Kremmydas, Commentary on Demosthenes Against Leptines

posted with permission:

Commentary on Demosthenes Against Leptines. With Introduction, Text, and Translation. By Christos Kremmydas. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2012. Pp. xi + 489. Hardcover, £99.00/$170.00. ISBN 978-0-199-57813-9.

Reviewed by Phillip Harding, University of British Columbia

Demosthenes’ speech Against Leptines (number 20 in the corpus) was his first recognized foray into public affairs. He acted as one of the prosecutors (συνήγοροι) against a law that had been introduced more than a year before by Leptines of Koile. His speech was well respected in antiquity and has been equally well received in the tradition. Nevertheless, the most recent modern commentary in English is that of J. E. Sandys in 1890. This neglect is particularly hard to explain, since the speech, quite apart from its importance to students of Demosthenes’ development as an orator, is full of juicy material for those interested in Athenian legal and legislative procedure (νομοθεσία); the liturgical system and, particularly, exemption from its grasp (ἀτέλεια); the extent of Athens’ dependence upon imported grain, especially from the Black Sea area (and by extension, the size of the population of Attica); and the political and financial situation in Athens at the end of the Social War in 355 bc. Kremmydas successfully remedies this neglect with this publication. He provides a lengthy Introduction (1–69), which discusses all the above issues; a new Text with 35 departures from Dilts’ OCT; a facing Translation, which is generally clear and accurate, and a detailed Commentary (175–458), which contains material for all interests—historical, political, social, legal and rhetorical.

The speech Against Leptines was dated to the archonship of Kallistratos (355/4) by Dionysios of Halikarnassos (Ad Ammaeum 1.4). Whilst appearing to tip his hat to those who contest the reliability of Dionysios’ dates, Kremmydas concludes that the internal evidence from the speech confirms this date (33–4). Therefore, the law it contests must have been introduced and ratified at least a year before (356/5), since the proposer, Leptines, was no longer personally responsible under the statute of limitations (one year) for prosecutions under the νόμον μὴ ἐπιτήδειον θεῖναι (proposal of an inexpedient law). Following established procedure, the state chose five σύνδικοι to defend the law against its prosecutors (συνήγοροι), of whom there may only have been three. The σύνδικοι were all men of standing: Aristophon of Azenia, Deinias of Erkhia, Kephisodotos from Kerameis, Leodamas of Akharnai and Leptines himself. The συνήγοροι were relatively or almost completely unknown: Apsephion, son of Bathippos (the man whose original indictment of Leptines had lapsed due to his death), Phormion (an unidentifiable individual) and Demosthenes, who spoke third. Those who like to see factional politics behind every public lawsuit in fifth- and fourth-century Athens identify the five σύνδικοι as members of one faction (Aristophon’s) and suspect another (Euboulos’) hiding behind the inexperienced prosecutors. Kremmydas discusses these possibilities with circumspection (34–42) and concludes with others that the litigation belongs in the more general context of the effort to find a solution to Athens’ straightened financial situation at the end of the Social War (357–355 bc).

It is only from Demosthenes’ citations of clauses of Leptines’ law that we can recreate it. Whilst some might question the reliability of Demosthenes’ representation, Kremmydas concludes that the citations provide a clear idea of what the law was (52–3). Quite simply it stated: “In order that the wealthiest men perform liturgies, no one shall have ἀτέλεια, neither citizens, ἰσοτελεῖς or foreigners, nor shall it be possible to grant ἀτέλεια in the future; the only exceptions to this law being the descendants of Harmodios and Aristogeiton.” Not surprisingly this raises issues about the liturgical system; what were liturgies, who was eligible for them, who got exemption from them (ἀτέλεια) and how? Kremmydas devotes a large part of his Introduction to these issues (11–23). On the key question about the attitude of the wealthy elite to this form of compulsory contribution to the operation of the democratic system Kremmydas finds himself faced with a familiar dilemma. On the one hand, he argues that “liturgies became the primary field of competition for honour for Athenian elites” (13), on the other, he recognizes that very many wealthy men did their best to avoid them, and concedes that no one complained when Demetrios of Phaleron abolished them later in the century.

It was against the background of reluctance at a time of financial shortage that Leptines introduced his law to do away with honorary ἀτέλεια (exemption from liturgies except the trierarchy), a liturgy-loophole that had been granted to an unknown number of people both citizen and foreigners as an reward for services rendered. On its introduction the previous year it had passed easily. No one, it seems, questioned the need to tighten the screws on the wealthy. Even Demosthenes shies away from attacking the law on financial grounds; rather he concentrates his appeal on the damage it will do to Athens’ reputation at home and abroad, if it rescinds honors it has already granted and if it can no longer make such grants, which are an important element in its foreign and domestic policy, in the future. He devotes almost one third of his speech to the benefactors of Athens, sandwiching some group benefactors—Corinthians, Thasians and Byzantines—between four special individuals. The first two are foreigners: Epikerdes of Kyrene, a grain merchant, who had helped Athens in the past, and Leukon of Pantikapaion (an area Demosthenes knew well), for his pro-Athenian trade preferences and gifts of grain. The last two are great heroes of fourth-century Athens, Konon and Khabrias, the latter of whom had just died fighting at Khios and whose son, Ktesippos, was probably present in court (maybe even represented by Demosthenes). These were all tear-jerking references and it is not surprising that Kremmydas concludes (58–60), despite the absence of confirmation from ancient commentators, that Demosthenes was successful in bringing about the repeal of Leptines’ law.

The bulk of the volume is taken up by the Commentary, which, as stated above, is full of valuable and well-considered information. So much information leaves scope for quibbling. Each will have his own. For my part, I cannot pass unnoticed the non sequitur on p. 279, that IG II2 10 is “Thrasyboulos’ overly generous decree, which was indicted through a graphe paranomon by Archinos ….” A successfully indicted decree does not get inscribed!

Nevertheless, overall, Kremmydas has produced a very thorough study of this important work and made a valuable contribution to the growing modern interest in fourth-century Athens, and Demosthenes in particular.

More Antikythera Wreck Hype

Jo Marchant has written another piece for the Guardian (confusingly, with the same title as a previous piece) detailing a bit more what they hope to find … in medias res:

[…] For centuries Antikythera was in a busy shipping lane, but surprisingly its treacherous underwater cliffs and reefs are not littered with sunken ships (perhaps those ancient navigators were more skilled than we thought). And there are no obvious signs of a wreck at the site supposedly excavated by Cousteau, suggesting that he recovered all of the visible items there – or that he planted some of his finds for the cameras.

But 200 metres away, the divers found artefacts spread across the rocky sea floor, on a steep slope between 35 and 60 metres deep.

The largest item recovered was a huge lead anchor stock. It was lying on a semicircular object that might be a scupper pipe, used to drain water from the ship’s deck. If so, the ship may have gone down as she was sailing with the anchor stowed. The team also raised an intact storage jar (amphora), which matches those previously recovered from the wreck. DNA tests may reveal its original contents.

Most intriguing are dozens of irregular spherical objects sprinkled across the wreck site. They look like rocks but contain flecks of green, suggesting small bronze fragments, corroded and encrusted in sediment after thousands of years in the sea. This is just what the Antikythera mechanism looked like when it was discovered. Then again, they could be collections of ship’s nails.

Because the artefacts the team found are a short distance from the site investigated by Cousteau, it’s possible that they belong to a second ship from around the same date as the original wreck, perhaps part of the same fleet. But Foley thinks it more likely that all of the remains come from one vessel that broke up as it sank.

To confirm this, he hopes to revisit the site later this year. He wants to use metal detectors to map the distribution of metal and ceramic objects buried beneath the surface, as well as dig a few test trenches. “I’m intensely curious about what’s in the sediments,” he says. […].

cf. our previous coverage on Foley’s work … it includes a link to Marchant’s previous item: Returning to Antikythera